Meet the pipeline fighters in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley who won
Environmental threats are big, but the power of well-organized community groups is bigger.
And the community that came together to stop a fracked gas project in New Hampshire showed just what it takes to make real change happen.
Energy and Climate Upper Valley is made up of concerned neighbors who came together when a fracked gas pipeline and storage depot was proposed for Lebanon, New Hampshire. Together, they organized powerful local opposition and stopped this pipeline from being built.
It takes a strong group made up of many dedicated people to stop a pipeline. Here are some of the people who did.
“When a local businessman received a zoning variance to build a fracked gas depot in Lebanon to serve Lebanon and Hanover, I sounded the alarm. When that application and a competing one from Liberty Utilities came before the Public Utilities Commission, I supported Ariel in becoming a citizen intervenor, writing and tracking the intervention. I also brought the issue to the attention of the Upper Valley Sierra Club, which led to Judi Colla getting involved.”
– Stuart Blood
“As a member of the Lebanon Energy Advisory Council, I challenged the fracked-gas-supporting language in the town plan, which resulted in the City Council striking the language, weakening Liberty’s case.”
– Ariel Arwen
“Having been told that ‘the best defense is a good offense,’ I focused on envisioning what we wanted instead of fracked gas to meet our energy needs. With help from others, I wrote a successful proposal to the national Sierra Club to be part of its brand-new Ready for 100 campaign. This support enabled us to hire Ally Samuell to help organize this campaign in Hanover and other Upper Valley towns. At Town Meeting in May 2017, Hanover citizens voted nearly unanimously to adopt the goals of using renewable energy for electricity by 2030 and for heating, cooling and transportation by 2050.”
– Judi Colla
“I organized a series of well-attended meetings in Hanover publicizing that fracked gas is not a beneficial bridge fuel. My team of Sierra Club members worked toward a unanimous vote for 100% renewable energy goals at Hanover’s 2017 Town Meeting, which weakened Liberty’s customer base, and case. I organized a demonstration in front of Liberty’s Lebanon offices.”
– Ally Samuell
“I created and maintained a website for the resistance.”
– Pat McGovern
“The leadership consolidated into a ‘strategy group’ who met to amplify opposition, deciding to focus on Lebanon. We held a series of well-attended informational meetings at the West Lebanon library.”
– Bob Walker
“Realizing that the proposal hinged on Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center being an end user, I worked on reaching the hierarchy at the hospital with letters pointing out that public opinion was against the pipeline. Then, very helpfully, Dartmouth College announced that it would not convert its campus heating to fracked gas.”
– Marta Ceroni
“A group that I am a part of, the Upper Valley Transformative Action Affinity Group, organized some community forums and contributed theatrics. We did skits at the Lebanon rally, and had an award-winning float in the Hanover 4th of July parade.”
– Simon Dennis
“My group, the Upper Valley Affinity Group, attended events throughout. A group of dedicated local volunteers and I organized the rally on Lebanon’s downtown green, with speakers, music, and booths, bringing out nearly 400 people and demonstrating the depth of opposition.”
– Laura Simon
“When Ariel moved out of New Hampshire and could no longer intervene before the Public Utilities Commission, she recruited me. I gave testimony at a public hearing well-attended by opponents. Working off Stuart’s suggestions, I laid out that many projected local customers would see through the utility’s deceptive marketing (helped by local oppositional information) and not buy from the pipeline. I think we prompted the Public Utilities Commission to place on the project, when it granted a license, a very high threshold of committed customers that had to be demonstrated before construction could begin. It exposed that the plan really was bad business, because the utility was never able to secure those customers.”
– Jon Chaffee
“I volunteered to represent Jon before the Public Utilities Commission, filing documents on his behalf.”
– Richard Husband
“I brought new energy to the campaign, reaching out to engage new groups in the Upper Valley Pipeline Coalition to plan continued action to stop the pipeline.”
– Shaina Kasper, Community Action Works
“My group, Sustainable Lebanon, went door to door in the Trues Brook neighborhood near the projected gas depot site, and were gratified with the positive response we got.”
– Phil Bush
“Inspired by Shaina’s meetings, a group of us launched a petition drive calling on the City Councilors of Lebanon to oppose the exercise of its license by Liberty Utilities. More than 1,100 signatures from Lebanon residents and Lebanon High School students were delivered to the City Council, along with impassioned speeches against the pipeline. This signaled to businesses that it would be unpopular to buy gas from the pipeline.”
– Kathy Beckett
“When the deadline for starting construction finally passed, I pushed for a celebration. Most of us gathered on Zoom. It was very emotional. It was not just that we won, but our deep appreciation for each other, and how we had collaborated over 5 years, each contributing our best effort.”
– Stuart Blood
We know that real, lasting change takes root when people get together and take action at the local level. And when community groups know how to make local democracy work for their health and environment, they lead the movement for large-scale transformation.
Your support makes this work possible—thank you.